Category Archives: Family

W^2 – last time?

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, January 4, 2023

I’ve been in northern Mississippi since Monday afternoon. I flew Southwest Airlines, yes that Southwest Airlines. The airline that melted down and cancelled hundreds of flights for an entire week beginning the day after Christmas. It’s been my go-to airline since I began travelling to Mississippi to visit my stepmother or care for the house these past three years.

the moon rising at 5:08, cant’s see Mars and my stepmoms home in Oxford

Yesterday, I engaged a realtor to sell the property. The day began with thunderstorms racing through the area and a tornado warning. By noon, the skies were clear. I took care of a few errands and decided to walk around her neighborhood one last time. Oxford is a beautiful town, and I understand how she and my dad came to love it.

fifteen minutes later and mars is visible

As I finished my walk, the sun had set, and the moon was rising. I’d gotten a message from an app that the moon and mars would be in conjunction and the best viewing time would 5:06 PM. It was still light out and the moon was visible, but Mars wasn’t. I pulled a lawn chair out onto the drive and sat and watched. Within twenty minutes Mars became visible as a small dot above the moon.

I savored the moment; it was a beautiful January evening, and it was pleasant enough to sit outside without a jacket.

twenty-seven minutes after sunset

I’ve enjoyed my visits over the years, but I am hoping this is my last trip to Oxford.

I had entertained the idea of driving to Vicksburg and staying at the Baer House and visiting the Vicksburg battlefield one more time but decided to get home and finish up a few things before school restarts Monday.

It’s a beautiful sunny day at the Memphis airport, but it will be good to get home later this evening.

Today is already an amazing day. I got to the airport ahead of time, I am checked in, and waiting on an airplane. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, looking forward to getting home.

How is the weather where you are?

annus mirabilis

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I reserve life changing promises for the new year which begins at the end of school, when teachers and students have an entire summer to reflect and reset for a new year. Sometimes these promises work and sometimes, they don’t.

The beginning of 2023 is no different. I’ve been reading posts on the blogosphere and social media disparaging the recently completed year, 2022. I suppose for some 2022 wasn’t the year for them. I read support for the recently completed year, as well.

On the whole, 2022 was, at least for me, an improvement on the previous year. It wasn’t perfect, but most years aren’t.

Early this morning, I discovered a new word – annus mirabilis, or a remarkable or notable year. I found it checking the meaning of another word with my Merriam-Webster app.

I’ve been blogging since the end of the school year in 2010. Blogging was a resolution then, but really it was more of a reaction to an annus horribilis. This post will mark my 728th post that I have published across fourteen consecutive years. That one resolution has changed my life in so many ways.

a Northern Cardinal at the feeder, Monday December 26, 2022

As I reflected this morning, Continue reading annus mirabilis

W^2 – light

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The past few weekends my wife and I have spent the afternoons cleaning leaves and adding Christmas lights to our yard.

the the sunsets on the backyard, Wheaton, IL, Sunday, December 4, 2022 4:52 PM

We finished this past weekend, and I was at the right place at the right time to capture the lights and the sunset before they were gone for another day.

 I enjoy looking out in the evening and seeing the illumination of the yard and I am reminded there is light in the world.

Sunny days in December are rare. This morning there is dense fog, tomorrow rain. But, I know there is light amid the darkness and I am going to find it and let it shine. Today is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, leaving my mark.

How is your Wednesday going (or any day for that matter)?

October baseball and blog atrophy

It has been a long while since I sat down to write a blog post. And sadly, the busyness has sidelined some of my blog reading, too. Embarrassingly it’s been more than a month since my last post. In the interim my unread email has ballooned considerably, so what have I been up to?

this morning, the trees looking up

The end of September marked three weekends in row where I was away from home, the first in southern California, then two weekends at our lake house in Michigan.

BASEBALL
At the end of September, I took a baseball trip to Southern California. I was able to find a weekend when both the LA Dodgers and the LA Angels were in town for home games. The trip added two more stadiums to my list of baseball stadiums where I have watched a major league baseball game. I have ten more stadiums before I have seen a baseball game in every MLB city, but I’ll have to include three teams whose stadiums have changed since I watched a game in their city – Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, and the Atlanta Braves.

Friday, September 30 – Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (click to watch the video)

It has been four weeks and I still have “I’m still standing” running through my head…. click the picture for the Dodger Stadium video…

The trip to the Los Angeles area was a great trip, and there were two bonuses. First was the Elton John bubblehead at Dodger Stadium on Friday night and second the choice of a hike along the beach or in the mountains or the beach on Saturday afternoon. I chose the beach and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the pounding surf while I walked in the soft sand of the Pacific Ocean beach.

Saturday, October 1 – Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels

That was the final weekend of baseball’s regular season, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four weeks later and there are at least three games remaining in the season, and possible five.

It’s the World Series and my team, the Houston Astros, is playing the Philadelphia Phillies. Last night the Astros tied the series 1-1 and the two team square off Monday night beginning three consecutive games in Philadelphia. I visited Philadelphia this summer as part of my epic seven-day, seven-game, six-city baseball trip and it was a fun park to watch baseball in but on Monday night the park will be full, loud, and unfriendly place for the Astros.

FALL LEAVES
Yes, it is that time again. Fall and leaf clean up. My wife and I spent the first weekend in Michigan at our lake house to do fall clean up there. Fall begins earlier in Michigan than it does at home in northern Illinois. We also had a weekend football game with our daughter at Michigan State. It was fun to be on campus, but the Spartan football team was not a match for the Ohio State Buckeye football team losing 49-20.

The plan for the first weekend was to get the yard, the garage, and the home ready for the winter by the lake, but we ran out of time and daylight on Sunday. Continue reading October baseball and blog atrophy

W^2 – measuring up

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A couple of weeks ago, I was mowing our lawn on a Wednesday evening after school, when I looked up to discover this young boy and his mom investigating the handprints in our sidewalk. His mother was patient as the young boy placed his hands in each of the handprints and repeated the process.

a young man investigates the handprints in our sidewalk, When, IL, Wednesday, September 7, 2022 6:18 PM

The first was the handprint made by our daughter who was four almost five years old and the other, our son who was eight years old at the time. Beneath each handprint, my wife had scratched their initials and the date. The year was 2007.

Our kids are grown. Our son is married, our daughter in college, and one day this young boy will be making his way after leaving his mark somewhere along the way.

We all leave a mark, sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it’s not. It’s in the things we do, the way we made people feel, thew tings we say and write, and the contribution we made along the way.

Today is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, leaving my mark.

How has your Wednesday been?

twenty-one years later

Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.

The water cycle courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.

I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.

On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.

This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.

It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.

I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:

Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right?
Me – yes, I do.
Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse.
Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time.
Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her?
Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new.
Michelle – well, she remembers you.
Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago.
Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay.
Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up)
Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area.
Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.

That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.

This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.

Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.

I passed a church that was refuge on 9/11 and the days after as people sought comfort. Continue reading twenty-one years later

three words for the first week of school

What a great week! I am back to school for a twenty-fourth year of teaching. It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. It was so good I think I am going to go back on Monday for another week.

the early morning air from my summer office

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. Her post was a clip of an article about a decree by the president of Turkmenistan concerning the cycle of life. According to the decree, life comes in cycles of 12 years and the cycles are:

  • Childhood (birth – 13 years)
  • Adolescence (13-25 years)
  • Youth (25 to 37 years)
  • Maturity (37 to 49 years)
  • Prophesy (49 to 61 years)
  • inspirational (61 to 73 years)
  • Wisdom (73 to 85 years)
  • Old Age (85 to 97 years)

I find myself on the cusp of prophecy and inspirational. However, when I look in the mirror, I can see all of the cycles, but I can identify with childhood and adolescence. I believe my kiddos see me where I am on the cusp of being prophetic and inspirational. For the next ten months that is where I will spend most of my weekdays working with kids teaching and learning, but mostly learning, bouncing between cycles.

It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. Continue reading three words for the first week of school

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

Yesterday was my twenty-fourth first day of school, well, not completely. I was with teachers and administrators for meetings and new school year information, but kids will arrive Thursday. I am excited and I am sure the kids are, too..

I have one more day of meeting and a FULL day to work in my classroom and prepare for Thursday’s real first day of school with kids.

After school, I asked a colleague to film the solution to the riddle I posed in last week’s Tuesday’s Tune – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Before the solution reveal, let’s review the rules.

  1. The raft needs at least one animal to paddle it across the river, and it can hold at most two animals.
  2. If the lions EVER outnumber the wildebeest on either side of the river (including the animals on the boat if it is on that side), the lions will eat the wildebeest.
  3. The animals cannot just swim across – there are crocodiles in the river, there are no tricks, the animals must use the raft as described in rule #1.

Did you give it a try?

If so, how long did you persist in the challenge?

And now the solution…… Continue reading The Lion Sleeps Tonight – part 2

greetings from our garden

I love our garden and our backyard. I enjoy sitting at the patio table outside and working. We’ve lived in our home almost 31 years and it has evolved and grown.

The backyard is peaceful and calming unless a lawn crew next door or across the street. But lawn crews are here briefly, except for Saturday morning, but I am usually out of the house volunteering at the food pantry. The birds nor the flowers seem to mind.

hydrangeas on the south side of the house

This morning Fern and I woke before six and we spent our morning routine outside on the deck. The birds chirped, mostly house sparrows and cardinals, but I have seen American robins, black capped chickadees, house finches, and an occasional American goldfinch at the feeders. And the hummingbirds, occasionally I’ll hear a buzz to my left and look up to watch a hummingbird move in for a drink. Continue reading greetings from our garden

summer learning

The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.

me and the bridge, right out of the car

I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.

Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.

School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.

A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.

Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.

the mighty Mack

We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.

We arrived at Colonial Michilimackinac Historic State Park and it was good to stretch our legs even after the short drive of 85 miles; nothing like our journey in April when we stopped only to switch drivers, refuel, and….. Continue reading summer learning